New Waterfall Project

At the beginning of March I started work on a new waterfall art quilt wall hanging which was commissioned some time ago by a friend (sorry it has taken me so long, Sue). For one reason and another it has taken me much longer than normal to do but today I finally completed the last stitches on the binding and all it needs now is a label to be sewn on the back.

Before starting on the quilt we had another trip to the jungle and I took some more photos to inspire me and get me in the mood for another rain forest project.

I was slow to start this quilt but as soon as I started sorting all my fabrics out I started to feel inspired again. The quilt is of a waterfall set deep in the forest and is a design that I have made several times before but every time I make it, it turns out slightly different. My fabrics are always changing, I run out of old favourites and find new ones. I wanted to start fresh with this design so once I had assembled my fabrics and got my inspirational photos I didn’t look at any pictures of the previous quilts I’d made.

The quilt is constructed on a background of stabilizer on which I sketched the outline of the design and then the individual fabrics are added one by one. I use freezer paper templates and the edges are coated with liquid starch and then turned under so there are no raw edges in the construction process. Something funny happened when I first started. I grabbed a can of what I thought was spray starch and sprayed some in the lid and thought that it had perished from long storage as it came out as a sticky yellow mess. It was only when I stuck my finger in it that I realized that it was in fact spray glue and I had an awful job getting it off my fingers and paintbrush, but luckily I hadn’t applied any to the fabric.

These are the fabrics and photos assembled ready to start, and the design drawn out on tearaway stabilizer. I tend to use mostly batiks for these designs and I have some lovely striped batiks which I find particularly good for replicating the layers of rock.

In the photo above you can see where I have started layering the fabrics for the background, pinning them in place individually before stitching with invisible thread.

 I continued adding fabrics until the background was completed, then I started to add embellishments to create the foliage, waterfall and jungle creepers. I also added some machine trapunto to make the foreground rocks stand out. The whole design was outline quilted with invisible thread, then I used rayon threads to stipple in some of the background areas, finally finishing off with a variegated cotton thread in the borders.

Detail showing the foreground rocks made to stand out from the background a bit more by the use of machine trapunto, needlelace foliage and raw edge applique with decorative quilting for the water and sand.

The completed design, and it is particularly pleasant to look at the moment, with the image of the lush vegetation and the cool, flowing water because it is extremely hot this morning. There is an inland wind blowing, parching everything and bringing with it the smell of distant fires as the forest burns. This morning I woke with a headache and the smell of smoke throughout the house, I prefer rain any day.

Experimenting with trapunto

Traditionally trapunto was a form of padded quilting, usually on white fabric and was made by inserting small shreds of batting through a tiny hole in the back of a quilted motif. Nowadays there is a much simpler way of doing it using free motion machine quilting and water soluble thread. I have been wanting to try it for a while now but wasn’t quite sure how to do it until I recently got Ricky Tim’s ‘Grand Finale’ DVD, where he explains the process in detail.

I started off by tracing the design onto my fabric, I used a freezer paper template and a water soluble pen for this. The design was my adaptation of a traditional native design which I have previously done in applique.



I then removed the template and placed a piece of batting under the design and secured it in place with a few pins. I stitched round teh outline of the design using water soluble thread in both the needle and the bobbin. Once the stitching was complete I carefully cut away the excess batting, trimming as colse to teh stitching as possible.

The picture above shows the back of the design with the batting cut away.  Next I took another square of batting and layered it between the top and some backing fabric. I used a variegated cotton thread to free motion quilt around the outline of the design and then to stipple the background. This part didn’t work quite so well and the stippling wasn’t really small enough or close enough to the design to make it really stand out. I was having a few problems with the adjustable settings of my quilting foot which didn’t help matters.

The finished design would have looked better with much tighter stippling and maybe on a more solid coloured background, but it was a useful learning process and I can see that this technique could have great potential when used with applique designs.